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They say that what doesn't break you, makes you stronger. I believe this applies to relationships in general as well. When I look back on my relationship with Richard, there are many things that nearly broke us, but instead made us stronger, but one event in particular stands out. Only because we can look back at it and laugh about it now…

When I first moved to Italy to be with Richard, he suggested we go on this classic car race that his friend had organised. I told him that I knew nothing about classic cars and even less about racing. 'Don't worry, we will just do it for fun, it will be amazing, driving through the most scenic parts of Italy in a classic car!' he said. Our relationship was still at that 'honeymoon stage', so I thought oh how wonderful, he's so romantic, it's going to be amazing!

The classic car race was indeed amazing. The race started in Reggio Emilia, took us through Cinque Terre and ended in Parma. We drove through sunshine, through snow, and through some really beautiful places in Italy…

When we arrived for the orientation, I started to get a bit nervous. There were lots of people there who looked very professional. We went to register and picked up this massive thick book that was basically the map book of the course. It all looked like little coded symbols to me. I was to be the 'co-pilot' which means I needed to navigate Richard through the course while he drove. Again Richard reassured me 'Don't worry, we are just doing it for fun!'. The map book showed ball and arrows on each page to show the route. The pages show a diagram of the road junction. I would be the one responsible for constantly following the mileages on the left of the page to make sure that we are at the correct junction. A proper odometer should be used, and I could see the fancy systems the other entrants had installed in their cars. So basically, I would have to spend the whole car race with my head looking down into this book, shouting out directions to Richard. Hmnnnn. Already it was starting to sound not so much like a romantic scenic drive!

Richard kept assuring me it was all just for fun, who cares about the race! Lets enjoy it! Off we go to the start line, and as soon as the race starts, and I'm casually just looking through the map book, Richard suddenly seems to change personality and gets into his super competitive mode! I say 'Oh, I think you turn left in a little while'. He initially tries to act calm and nice, and says 'Well WHEN do we turn left, you have to be CLEAR!' So I try to get into the zone of this whole classic car rally, and start navigating him. As best I can. Let me explain. I have the worst sense of direction. My friend Gina always laughs at me because we would be walking down a road, walk into a shop and as soon as we walk out the shop I would confidently start walking in the direction we came in. Introduce maps to the already confused mind of mine? And not even normal maps. Little coded maps. Oh, and I get car sick. Wow, this was going to be a fun 4 days!

By the end of the first day I was PISSED OFF. I had been screamed at more times then I care to even remember. On the 2nd day we were screaming so much at each other we had to stop the car, roll the windows up and put the roof up, so the others couldn't hear how much we were screaming! I was ready to storm out the car and take a train back home. The morning of the 3rd day, we were already arguing as we were walking towards the start line, then Richard somehow lost his contact lens! I don't even remember how that happened. But there we were, totally annoyed with each other, and my 'pilot' is standing there with one visible eye and one blind eye. Great. He said I will have to drive the car. What!? This was not part of the plan. I'm quite particular about my car and my driving and only like driving my own car. I don't even like driving rent a cars. And now he wants me to drive this car from the 1960's, with gears that go grrrrrrrrr grrrrrrr grrrrrrr whenever you try to change them, with a bunch of spectators and TV crew!? You must be kidding me. I told him there was no chance. He then started to have a tantrum like a little kid, saying that if I don't drive the car we would get disqualified and how could I allow that to happen!? Anyway, after a lot of screaming, we finally managed to find a pharmacy open that early, to get a replacement lens and Richard was able to drive again…

After that something clicked and I was starting to get a hang of it all, and feeling super competitive too! Our relationship had suffered 2.5 days of screaming and tantrums, now it was time for the fun! We became like 2 little kids, running to see the score board whenever there was a break. We were really starting to work like a team and loving every moment! What fun!

Now whenever we look back and think about the race, we just laugh like little kids. We both know deep down that after all, that trip made us stronger, and made us experience something outside of our comfort zone together, and we came out the winners (NOT in the race!) All the bad parts are forgotten and now we proudly say to people that yes, we did a classic car race together and absolutely loved it!

This all happened pre-kids… Now in September we have our second classic car race coming up in Piemonte, Italy. Wish our relationship some luck, on surviving our second classic car race together….